Many people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s live safely at home, even though they may need plenty of memory cues like lists and notes. Over time, though, Alzheimer’s causes memory loss and thinking problems that could make living at home dangerous. For example, Alzheimer’s patients who are in the mid- to late-stages of the disease have been known to leave appliances such as the stove or the coffee pot on, and wander to unsafe places such as a busy intersection or unfamiliar part of town.
When this happens, Alzheimer’s experts at Beverly Healthcare, a leading provider of eldercare services including Alzheimer’s care, advise that families look for a nursing home with a program or unit designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s. “People in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s need 24-hour supervision and care. A setting like Alzheimer’s Care at Beverly with specially designed programming provides the care they need, and also gives them a chance to live in a place where they can enjoy life and remember happier times,” said Ed McMahon, director of Alzheimers care and quality of life for Beverly Healthcare.
Making the decision to look for long-term care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is rarely easy. However, when families find the right nursing home — where they know that their loved one will be happy and safe — the transition can be smoother for everyone.
Beverly Healthcare suggests that families ask the following questions when looking for expert Alzheimer’s care for a loved one.
What Do You Do to Make Sure the Nursing Home Feels Like the Patient’s Own Home?
An important feature to look for when visiting an Alzheimer’s care unit is the feeling of home. If the unit doesn’t smell or sound like what you’d expect in a regular home, it may not be the right place. Since people with Alzheimer’s need the comfort of feeling like they’re at home, many Alzheimer’s units offer the little details that make a big difference, for example, hanging quilts on the walls for a homey feeling or offering meals family-style in a dining room or kitchen.
What opportunities do you provide for my loved one to participate in meaningful activities?
Many Alzheimer’s programs provide scheduled activities, but some go a bit further and offer residents a chance to engage in meaningful activities throughout the entire day, including the evening hours. Some companies, such as Beverly Healthcare, have designed rooms to resemble soda shops, libraries, boutiques, sunrooms and front porches that residents have access to 24 hours a day. While Alzheimer’s patients may have trouble remembering the recent past and the present, many remember the days when they were younger. Rooms like those mentioned above can help residents remember those happier times from many years ago.
How Will You Keep My Loved One Safe?
Since many people with Alzheimer’s are continually looking for “home,” they tend to wander without regard for their own personal safety, so it’s important to ask about the program’s safety measures. Consider asking if your loved one will be living in an area that is secure 24 hours a day. If residents have access to the outdoors, such as a courtyard, you will also want to ask how that area is secured.
How is Your Staff Trained to Handle the Complex Issues of Caring For a Person With Alzheimer’s?
Ask the program director if the staff has had special training to understand the effects of Alzheimer’s and if they promote ongoing education. In addition to asking the staff questions about the program, ask residents and visitors how they feel about the program and its staff. You may want to consider spending some time in the unit so you can see firsthand the interaction between the residents and staff.
“We’ve worked with many nursing home staffs to help them understand how Alzheimer’s can affect the way a person behaves. The advice and training that we offer makes the caregivers more aware of how they can help Alzheimer’s patients and their families face the daily challenges of the disease,” said McMahon.
How Will We Pay for Alzheimer’s Care?
One of the most difficult issues families face is how to pay for Alzheimer’s care. Nursing home business office managers are familiar with the various ways to finance this care, and they are available to offer their expertise to families. Keep in mind there is a range of benefits available including Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance policies, retirement plans such as IRAs, Social Security and annuities, as well as personal savings and investments. The options available are dependent on specific circumstances and in some instances, such as Medicare, are very limited.
For information on Alzheimer’s disease visit www.alz.org. For information on Beverly Healthcare nursing homes that offer the Alzheimer’s Care at Beverly program visit www.beverlycares.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content